Merry Christmas from The Catholic Key! Following is Kansas City – St. Joseph Bishop Robert W. Finn’s Christmas message given at Masses on Dec. 24-25 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Kansas City and the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph:
Dear friends in Christ,
In the birth of this Child, the promise of the ages was fulfilled. Since the sin of Adam, the world needed its Redeemer, and now the New Adam is born among us. “O Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining. It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.” In Jesus, the New Adam, creation is in a sense re-started.
Mary, the woman promised in Genesis who would crush the head of the serpent, is the Mother of the Savior and the Mother of us all. Her “yes” to God’s mysterious plan catapulted the work of love forward powerfully, and changed human history. Her baby is “God With Us,” and, in Him, the down-payment has been made on the gift of salvation. “Long lay the world, in sin and sorrow pining, till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.”
When Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, took our flesh in the mystery of the Incarnation, He became flesh: True God and True Man. So what is the worth of a person? It is not primarily the sum of our actions. It is certainly not limited in any way to the status of our citizenship. Nor is it tied to the measure of our I.Q., the quantity of our material possessions, or our position in the community or the Church. Our lasting and irrevocable worth is grounded in the fact that we are a son or daughter of the heavenly Father. Our inestimable value is tied to the fact that Jesus Christ has united Himself in some fashion with each person. He has died for me and you. He has given our mortal nature, immortal value. Because of His Plan we are destined for eternity, and even now He has made it possible for us to live in His grace and life. Mankind has become new – newborn – in this mystery of Christmas. And while we adore the Christ-child, we must be ready to honor each person – all of whom share His image.
An important icon of Christmas is that of the Holy Family. Mary and Joseph chose to live in fidelity and love. It seems true that neither Mary nor Joseph could fully anticipate how God’s promise would unfold. And couples and families – indeed any of us - can never know all that God may ask of us. Nonetheless, they gave their full assent to this gift of life at Christmas. In the Gospels of the coming days we hear how Mary held all these things in her heart; how Joseph would awaken to carry out the next divine instruction. Their docility to God and their complete love for Jesus would hold them together as a family – through poverty, and exile, and the ordinary moments of home life.
Mary and Joseph, intercede for married couples and families. Jesus, bless our children. Keep them safe and close to you, whether they are young or old. Be our Savior at every moment of life. Protect this most unique gift which is marriage and family. Affirm and sustain it at the core of society and at the heart of the Church.
The angels announce peace, and the Prince of Peace is the Way, Truth, and Life of the world. Teach our world the Way to peace; the Truth that endures; and make us protectors and advocates for Life. Help us to know and revere the worth of each person.
In our prayers these days, dear friends, we have no more worthy image than that of the Crib scene: Mary and Joseph and Jesus huddled in simple surroundings, angels praising, shepherds and kings adoring. Don’t let Christmas melt away too quickly. Let us spend some time each day gazing on these pictures of Christmas, contemplating their meaning – then and now. We also can come simply before Jesus to adore him as Lord of our life. Ask Mary and Joseph to kneel next to you. Ask them to introduce you to their Son; to help you to know and love Jesus more truly and deeply. So that when we go out into the world that longs for its Savior, we will be able to give Him in love to others.
Dear friends, I wish you the lasting joy and peace of these holy days. Merry Christmas!